Sweeps are all around for South Whidbey girls tennis

Falcon junior Colleen Groce sets up a forehand stroke against Lakewood on Tuesday, March 12 at South Whidbey High School.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Falcon junior Colleen Groce sets up a forehand stroke against Lakewood on Tuesday, March 12 at South Whidbey High School.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

It’s early for spring cleaning. But the way South Whidbey girls tennis is sweeping opponents, the brooms are certainly out.

The Falcons downed the Lakewood Cougars, 7-0, on Tuesday. It was one day after South Whidbey defeated Overlake, a fellow 1A school from Redmond, 4-1.

Despite frigid temperatures and strong wind gusts, the Falcons flew by the Cougars and never lost a set. South Whidbey only lost a combined 15 games to Lakewood.

“Lakewood is a young team and also at a disadvantage because their home courts are in very poor condition,” said Falcon head coach Karyle Kramer.

A hunger game of sorts compelled the Falcons’ second doubles team to its first victory this season. Hannah Calderwood and Katrina Layton secured the win, 6-3, 6-1, over Lakewood’s Violet Jensen and Jackie Stover. And it went much faster than their previous day’s contest — a three-set loss to Overlake — in part because Calderwood had the munchies.

“Personally, I was really hungry and I knew there were snacks,” Calderwood said of her motivation behind the quick win.

Calderwood, a senior in her first year of Falcon tennis, felt right at home at the net. She is, after all, an all-Cascade Conference volleyball player, so slamming overheads (called kills in volleyball) was right in her wheelhouse.

“Smashing balls in general is what I feel most comfortable doing,” Calderwood said.

Layton, who played varsity doubles last season, used her experience on the baseline to hit the ball crosscourt and deep. That forced Lakewood’s players to attempt lobs which didn’t quite pass beyond Calderwood’s long, athletic reach.

The joy of victory dissipated soon, however, as Calderwood realized she locked her keys in her car. The issue was resolved by a phone call home for a spare key set.

After winning a long three-set match the day before, Falcon juniors Tess Radisch and Amelia Weeks cruised by Lakewood. Jenny Tsengelmaa and Zaya Tsengelmaa were outmatched by Radisch and Weeks, both seasoned doubles players, 6-0, 6-0. Weeks’ low-and-fast first serve put both Tsengelmaas “on their heels” as she racked up several aces.

Finishing their matches first, and at quite a clip, were the sisters Newman. Hayley Newman, a senior, won the top singles match without losing a game, 6-0, 6-0. Focusing on placement, Newman moved Lakewood’s Kiley Staley from sideline to sideline, to the net and back to the baseline. Save for some serving miscues, Newman’s game was flawless.

Not to be outdone, her sister, sophomore Carlie Newman, finished her match quickly. Carlie defeated Lakewood’s McKayla Schwiger, 6-0, 6-0.

It was a unique match for the Falcons. As a 1A team, South Whidbey is allotted two singles and three doubles matches for its varsity score. But against a 2A team like Lakewood, which has four singles and three doubles, South Whidbey fielded a 2A-size squad.

Colleen Groce and Isla Dubendorf, usually South Whidbey’s third doubles team, played third and fourth singles against Lakewood. Groce won the day’s closest match, 6-4, 6-3, against Lakewood’s Hannah Knetsinger. Dubendorf won, 6-0, 6-1, over Maddy DeYoung.

A shuffled roster allowed for Breanna Gauger and Sophie Nilsen to slide into the third doubles role. They won, 6-0, 6-3 after trying new strategies of challenging the net and shot placement.

South Whidbey faces an early test March 16 on the road against Bellingham.


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